Uncovering the Past with Maya Shanbhag Lang and Jessica Pearce Rotondi

Families are complicated and the people you are closest to are often the ones you understand the least. In the wake of her mother’s death, Jessica Pearce Rotondi, author of What We Inherit, uncovers boxes of letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings that bring to light a family ghost: Her Uncle Jack, who disappeared during the CIA-led “Secret War” in Laos in 1972. The letters lead her across Southeast Asia in search of the truth that has eluded her family for decades. What she discovers takes her closer to the mother she lost and the mysteries of a secret war that changed the rules of engagement forever. Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency, all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. She had always been a source of support—until Maya became a mother herself. Then, the parent who had once been so attentive became distant. Struggling to understand this abrupt change, Maya learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer’s. Stepping in to care for her mother, she comes to realize that despite their closeness, she never really knew her mother. What We Carry is the story of a daughter and her mother, of lies and truths, of receiving and giving care—and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us.

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